IPSO Blog: Reporting of coronavirus COVID-19

Communications and Public Affairs Officer Hanno Fenech on the importance of accurate reporting in the coverage of an evolving health crisis

Newspapers and magazines are on the front line of coronavirus coverage. Every day, they are delivering vital news and analysis to the public.

In these unprecedented times, journalists will be working non-stop to inform the public of developments regarding the impact of COVID-19. Reporting breaking or rapidly changing news is undoubtedly challenging, but the need for accuracy in paramount.

The vast majority of national and regional newspapers and magazines in the UK are regulated by IPSO. They have committed themselves to maintaining the highest possible standards in journalism set out in the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code covers accuracy. It makes clear that the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

It also says that should a significant inaccuracy be published it should be corrected promptly and with due prominence. This is important, because while some simple factual inaccuracies are easily spotted and rectified, in a rapidly evolving health crisis, fluctuating containment strategies and contradictory scientific reports can confuse editors as well as readers, and the correct position needs to be on record.

To respond to the new challenges we all face, news readers need to know that the information they read is accurate and accountable. By enforcing the Editors’ Code of Practice and upholding the highest standards in journalism, IPSO is doing just that.

How we can help

IPSO is operating as normal during this time, but as per Government advice we have asked our staff to work from home so there may be occasional delays. You can contact us as you normally would by phone, email or via Twitter.

Help with potential press intrusion

If someone is being contacted by journalists and they want this to stop, we offer a 24-hour emergency helpline. Where appropriate, we can send a private advisory notice to communicate specific requests or make editors aware of concerns.

Complaints

If you  see something in the press that you think breaks the rules, you can make a complaint under the Editors' Code. This covers editorial material and journalistic behaviour.

Major incidents and emergencies

If a major incident or high profile event takes place , IPSO can help with potential press intrusion. Find details of the 24-hour emergency helpline here

Low cost access to justice

Through our arbitration service, anyone can make a legal claim against a participating publisher, with fees for claimants no more than £100.

Advice

Our information is designed to help people understand the rules which newspapers and magazines must follow and know where to go for help if required. You can also call our office for advice on 0300 123 22 20.